Posted July 11, 2012
When the underlying issues of a civilized society are endangered by a dictatorial and secretive administration, democracy, as we know it, vanishes.
It’s a natural instinct for those in power to withhold information that may reflect on their actions and management of the public assets.
Once in power the tendency is to surround yourself with friends and supporters who blindly follow.
One of the first tenants of political power is to control the message and give the appearance of serving the public stakeholders. Those controlling the agenda ignore disagreement and rejection of the controlling political organization’s policies.
This leads to anger and disillusionment on the part of the stakeholder, you and me.
So, thanks to a report by Carol Goar in the Toronto Star, here are three lessons to emphasize the theory of democracy discarded by those empowered.
Lesson One: Those with power – politicians, police and bureaucrats – don’t believe they should have to share that power. Basically, they dismiss the rights of citizens to share that power and don’t believe they have any role to play in their sphere of influence.
Lesson Two: Governments frequently slap pejorative labels on those who oppose and complain. Such methods are to use surrogates to attack those objectors labelling them as ignorant, dangerous, violent and out of touch.
Lesson Three: Citizens have to use the tools they have to keep democracy alive. These include solidarity, willingness to stand up to authorities and to reach beyond their own ranks.
How does that menu rank with what has been going on in Guelph for the past six years?
First, we have been governed by a civic dictatorship composed of a majority of councillors who, 99 per cent of the time, votes their own agenda. The opposition – in the first four years consisted of just two councillors. Since 2010, the opposition has grown to five councillors who have voiced concerns about the operation of the city government but are defeated most times when votes are held.
There is growing evidence that Mayor Karen Farbridge, the architect of Guelph’s public policy, along with a close-knit group of unelected advisors, has created a growing unrest among voters.
Democracy is no longer operative in this council.
The administration works in two parts. The mayor to carry out her agenda, has handpicked the senior bureaucrats. Policy rests with the mayor and her advisors including former councillors Ken Hammill and Cathy Downer.
The Mayor is beholden and influenced by the Guelph Civic League although since the 10 Carden Street organization came into being that influence has diminished. Instead, 10 Carden Street is the stepchild of the Guelph Civic League. It received a $135,000 Trillium Foundation grant from the provincial government to provide “community services.”
This is a thinly disguised political action group dedicated to support the present Farbridge political organization.
The artful part is how the Farbridge crew has influenced and received support from a number of community and neighbourhood groups supplying public funding, support in planning and social issues.
The offshoot of all this is the vast silent majority of voters who are not united, knowledgeable nor organized to question or oppose policies advanced by the Farbridge political organization.
This has resulted in participatory democracy failing to acknowledge its majority rule.
For almost six years,the city has b ten ruled by a tight-knit group of individuals operating under the mantra of: “ it’s our way or the highway.”
Still not convinced?
The ambition of this group has cost taxpayers millions in personal pet projects, dumb planning, excessive legal expenses and fiscal mismanagement aided and abetted by unqualified or absent individuals. Those responsible for protecting the public interest
Madame Mayor, democracy has left your building.